After seeing the success of Shoes of Prey – an online custom shoe retailer – Pascale Heylar-Moray decided to leave her career as a financial services marketer behind and go into business for herself. Combining her passion for jewellery and the idea of letting people customise their own orders online, Pascale launched her store StyleRocks in November 2011, and things are taking off for the startup.
What inspired you to start the business?
After being given the opportunity to select a gift to celebrate the birth of my twins, I realised there was little avenue for personal choice in the online jewellery industry. Being pregnant, the last thing I wanted to do was shop, so I went online and couldn’t find anything I liked in the metals I wear, or the stones I love. I didn’t have the energy or time to visit a jeweller to create something, so we left it.
The babies were born and some months later, after we’d relocated to Australia from London, I saw the Shoes of Prey website, which offers you complete customisation in designing your shoes. I thought that the ability to design your own jewellery, exactly as you want it, was what I needed to create – and so StyleRocks was born.
How did you start attracting customers to the website?
As we’ve only been online for three months, we are really still in that startup phase. That said, we did quite a bit of marketing activity prior to the site going live: blogging, using social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) and some public relations (PR). We also ran a competition to capture people’s email addresses in the pre-launch phase, so that we could build up our own marketing database.
How has social media helped grow the business?
We’ve found that Facebook has been a great way of growing the StyleRocks community. It’s also a great way of showcasing the StyleRocks jewellery and designs. Twitter is important, as well, as a way of seeing what the discussions are around jewellery customisation, etc.
What has been the most effective form of advertising for your website?
As a newly-launched startup, it’s too early to say which marketing activities are the best. However, from activities undertaken to date, online PR seems to be the most effective in terms of driving quality traffic to the StyleRocks website. We’ve been lucky enough to have Vogue Brides, Polka Dot Bride (Australia’s most popular wedding blog), StylingYou (an award-winning fashion blogger), and Daily Addict (the what’s-hip-and-happening website), all review StyleRocks with glowing results.
Our other most effective marketing tool so far has been our date reminder system. Prior to launch, we captured thousands of email addresses and the details of people’s important events: wedding anniversaries, birthdays, etc. We send out reminder emails two months, then one month in advance of those key dates, so that those customers can create the perfect piece of jewellery for their gift recipient.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business for the first time?
Work out where the gaps in your skillsets are. Then outsource those gaps to someone who has the requisite experience to fill them. This may be a foreign idea to a startup business owner, but there are some skills that you can’t just learn as you go; they require years of experience behind them.